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Cruise Port of Call Wheelchair Accessibility Review: Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas. It lies on the island of New Providence, with neighboring Paradise Island accessible via Nassau Harbor bridges. A popular cruise ship stop, the city has a hilly landscape and is known for beaches, as well as its offshore coral reefs that are popular for diving and snorkeling. It retains many of its typical pastel-colored British colonial buildings, like the pink-hued government house. You can also do lots of bargain shopping in the numerous shops downtown.

Upon arrival in Nassau, your cruise ship will likely talk at Prince George Wharf. This is near Rawson Square in the heart of Nassau, and downtown is less than a 15 minute roll away. Once you disembark your ship, it is a somewhat long walk/roll down the pier to a bridge that crosses over to the terminal building. Once you walk through the building, you will emerge into the colorful Festival Place Welcome Center, designed to resemble a Bahamian village with stands selling arts, crafts, and island treats such as coconut and pineapple tarts. On Tuesday, Fridays, and Saturdays, you can listen to some local Bahamian live music.

If you choose to eat or shop outside of the immediate port area and village, you will go through a large gate and across the streets into town. You will want to head to Bay Street, Nassau’s famous international shopping area. Liquor, perfume, jewelry, and china are favorite items for duty-free shoppers. The best buys and shopping bargains can be found among the straw craft items and souvenirs at the Straw Market. The aisles are quite narrow so you may have to push some things out of the way, but overall it’s accessible for wheelchair users.

These stores on Bay Street are flanked by picturesque, pastel pink colored colonial style government buildings erected in the early 1800s by Loyalists, including the Houses of Parliament, the old Colonial Secretary’s Office, and the Supreme Court all surrounding a marble statue of Queen Victoria. Parliament Square in downtown Nassau is the traditional center of Bahamian government. Further downtown stance Port Charlotte. Built in 1788, it is complete with moat, open battlements, and even dungeons. Not all buildings or shops are accessible, but locals are always more than happy to help if you’re flexible.

If you want to go outside of the port area or town just outside of the terminal, you will need to book an accessible shore excursion or hire a wheelchair taxi. There are only three wheelchair taxis on the entire island, and they are often not operational. They are also extremely expensive. When I visited Nassau with my family on the Disney Dream in June 2018, I paid $350 for the five of us to travel 1.6 miles each way from the port to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Regular taxis usually cost only $12 per person each way. Also, if you choose to visit the Atlantis Resort, you have to purchase passes to visit the beach, or a full day pass to access the pools and water slides. The beach pass is around $75 and the all day pass, which includes the aquarium and the pools, costs $135 per person. Make sure you book both the accessible taxi and purchase your passes online ahead of time because both are in high demand, and the passes can sell out for specific days.

In addition to visiting Atlantis for a shore excursion, wheelchair users can also take a driving tour of Nassau and New Providence, or book an accessible tour for swimming with the dolphins. Again, these are both very expensive, but at least it provides wheelchair users with some options outside of the port area.

Are you ready to book a wheelchair accessible cruise that calls on the port of Nassau in the Bahamas? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel and we’ll get started!

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